Manu The Winemaker
This interview with Manu from Argentina is part a series on real people living nomadic, semi-nomadic and location-independent lifestyles. After his studies, he opted for a rather typical year of work and travel to New Zealand. But he never returned. A decade later, he works a few months every year in wineries. The rest of the time you’ll find him on his board(s) surfing and snowboarding all over the world.
FF: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Manu: I’m from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I’ve been traveling continuously for just over 10 years. First, I studied agronomic engineering. When I finished my degree I went for a year to New Zealand to get some work experience. My initial plan was to return to Argentina afterwards to find a job on a farm. But I never came back.
FF: What happened?
Manu: One of the jobs I did during that year was in a winery. I really liked it so since then I’ve been working exclusively in that industry. The rest of the time I travel around.
FF: What exactly do you do?
Manu: I’m what’s called a cellar hand. The actual work depends on the size of the winery. Sometimes you end up doing exactly the same specialized task. And sometimes you do everything from the reception of the fruit to the finished wine.
FF: What makes it so attractive?
Manu: You move a lot. It’s not like sitting in a office. And during the harvest, every winery needs a lot of staff. So you meet a lot of people. It’s a really fun community. Also it pays you good money in a really short period of time.
FF: How does your typical year look like?
Manu: I go to New Zealand every time around April. Often I also do a season in the Northern hemisphere. Usually France, sometimes California. I’ve also done a season in Chile. But for me the main one remains New Zealand.
FF: How long does a season last?
Manu: Normally I’m hired for 3 months. Sometimes a little less, it depends. So I work for 3 to 6 months a year if I also go for the second season in the North.
FF: What do you do the rest of the year?
Manu: When I’m not working I spend most of my time surfing and snowboarding. I’ve been doing both since I’m young. But because I was living in a big city I would only go out for a week or two every year. But I got much more serious. I finally have more time! Initially I was working more, but now I try to dedicate as much time as possible to my passions.
FF: Where do you go?
Manu: I go to Bali almost every year, I even leave a board there. I also surf in Central and South America. Peru, El Salvador, Nicaragua… So I have a second board stashed somewhere in Latin America. My snowboard usually lives somewhere in Europe or Asia.
FF: How do you manage to live off a few months’ wages?
Manu: I don’t have a home. Instead, I mostly go to cheap countries. Or stay at a friend’s place in more expensive countries like Japan. I eat local food, find creative solutions for my needs. There are many cheap alternatives not found on booking.com or the internet. Sometimes I also do some volunteering. Like last year in Peru. There I worked a few hours every day for room and board. I helped with repainting the rooms. I spent the rest of the day surfing.
FF: What are your future plans?
Manu: I don’t know for sure. But I don’t consider going back to a settled life. I enjoy my job and lifestyle. It’s working so far for me so I don’t feel like stopping. Yeah, I just really like it!
FF: What would be your advice after a decade on the road?
Manu: Just go out and do it. Don’t be afraid. It’s always hard at the beginning. But there are a lot of people doing it. You are not alone!